14 SC Artists to Watch in 2014

Art Contest at The Handlebar
Art Contest at The Handlebar

Art Contest

Why? Art Contest is an upstate band quickly gaining in popularity by playing high energy shows whenever and wherever they can. They’re in the young rock vein, playing high energy shows as close knit with the crowd as possible. They’re built on the diy punk ethos, mathy at times, but mostly loud and aggressive. First release “Math Major” due out this month.

Brave Baby at Charleston Music Hall

Brave Baby

Why? Still building off their 2012 début release Forty Bells, Brave Baby look to take their music career to another level in 2014 with the help of some major players. Who are they? I don’t know exactly, but there’s been chatter out there and a February tour in the works which might be more revealing.

Can’t Kids

Why? 2014 will be the year they drop the follow up to Brushes, Touches, Tongues and if their last show at New Brookland Tavern is any indicator the new album will not disappoint. Before that show they filmed a video filled with local musicians getting beat up, so we should have a fun video to watch in the coming weeks.

Dear Blanca at Jam Room Music Festival

Dear Blanca

Why? Dear Blanca is already back recording the follow-up to their debut album Talker, teaming up for a second time with Charlotte music scene magnate Bo White. Last time it was Dylan Dickerson and drummer Marc Coty carrying the load, but this time around they’ve got a band set in place, which will hopefully show on the record.

Elim Bolt at New Brookland Tavern

Elim Bolt

Why? As I write this, Johnnie Matthews is planning the next Elim Bolt record in his head. When you read this he’ll be recording it. Look for a possible spring release to a follow-up of 2012 debut Nude South, along with some regional show dates with some very fine bands.


Why? Either pronounced “Fuck Mountain” or the letters F K M T, these grungy Columbia garage rockers emerged in the second half of 2013 with a live show that brought their acoustic demos to life. They followed up those 3 acoustic demos with a 3 song EP released in late December that shows even more promise for the band. What’s next? Tons of shows wherever they get the chance.

Heyrocco at The Music Farm


Why? For the past two years Heyrocco has been hustling all over the East coast with self booked tours, getting their equipment stolen, and paying their dues. They quite literally grew up on the road, two members of the trio are still not old enough to get loosened up on cheap beer before they go on stage. 2014 will mark a huge year of change for the band. It will be the year they put out there first real deal record and quit booking their own tours.

Nathan Hussey at The Channel

Nathan Hussey/All Get Out

Why? It’s been two years since the All Get Out’s The Season came out on Favorite Gentlemen, so it’s time for the follow-up, and it looks like that will be here in 2014. Not only will All Get Out release their LP2, but Hussey will follow-up his debut release Ground Me with yet another solo record. While the band may tour less, output of material will be at an all time high from that crew.

Jordan Igoe on stage with Rachel Kate at Jam Room Music Festival

Jordan Igoe

Why? You probably haven’t heard much from Jordan Igoe yet, but that will change when her debut album How to Love comes out in the next month. You might have seen her singing backup and playing tambourine with Rachel Kate, but this time around her soulful country voice takes its place front and center. The songs are there and her voice is solid country gold.

Amber Joyner

Why? Seeing Amber Joyner on stage was a very common thing in 2012. She was often seen singing alongside both Elim Bolt and Brave Baby, but it seems like those days are ending with her first solo release in the works. From what we’ve heard so far she has a stripped down pop sound with the focus on her voice and the lyrics at hand. Similar to Lorde, but with weightier subject matter.

Say Brother at Fall for Greenville

Say Brother

Why? Say Brother is known as one of Columbia’s best and most rowdy live bands. I wrote them off at first, even walking out of one their shows, but I’ve since changed my ways. A couple of bourbon fueled country music arguments with frontman Tripp LaFrance changed my tune on the band. 2014 might finally be the year that they follow-up 2011’s All I Got Is Time. Fingers crossed on that one, but I believe deep down it might really happen.

Small Sanctions at Conundrum Music Hall

Small Sanctions

Why? Another band that burst onto the music scene in late 2013, Columbia basement rockers Small Sanctions have been quickly building a Southeastern web playing with bands from up and down the East coast. Their four song EP Feather Habits still has plenty of life and legs, but the trio hasn’t slowed down on writing new material. A new EP or full length is a slight possibility in 2014, but a more pronounced regional presence is a guarantee.

Trees on Mars

Why? Instrumental progressive rockers Trees on Mars have a plan in mind for 2014 that centers around hard work. They’re looking towards studio time in spring and a new record out this summer with tour dates to follow. Their debut self titled EP was a great start, and a new full length album recorded in one of their dream studios might trampoline the band to where they want to be.

Alexa Woodward and friends at Dark Room
Alexa Woodward and friends at Dark Room

Alexa Woodward

Why? Two years ago I was at a party in Greenville where Alexa Woodward was persuaded into singing a couple of songs. I hadn’t heard her play before and was blown away by the impromptu performance. Woodward’s new album Might Nigh is complete and Kickstarter contributors already have it in hand. It’s an album about life and a reconnection to the south after living in New York City and Boston for years before.


Photos by Chris Guirl, Meredith Stringer, David Stringer, Alexis Schwallier, Kathrine Brock

1 comment

  1. No heavy bands? Bummer. Check out WVRM, No., Sein zum Tode, Nailbiter, Abacus, Low to the Earth, Invoking the Abstract, Deathstill, Discouage, Space Coke and Vorov.

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